herald

Monday 23 April 2018

Ex-husband brands TV chef 'Higella' in court drugs claims

Nigella. Photo: PA Wire
Nigella. Photo: PA Wire

CHARLES Saatchi referred to his former wife Nigella Lawson as "Higella" and accused her of poisoning her daughter with drugs and "trashing her life".

A court has heard he believed Lawson was so off her head on drugs, she allowed their personal assistants to spend the couple's money on whatever they liked.

Italian sisters Francesca (35) and Elisabetta Grillo (41) are due to go on trial accused of committing fraud while they worked as PAs to the celebrity couple.

Judge Robin Johnson read out an email sent from Saatchi to Lawson following their high-profile divorce earlier this year.

In it Saatchi said: "Now the Grillos will get off on the basis that you ... were so off your head on drugs, you allowed the sisters to spend whatever they liked. And yes I believe every word the Grillos have said, who after all only stole money."

ASTOUNDED

The millionaire art dealer also called his ex-wife "Higella" in the message, which was sent on October 10 and signed off "Classy!", the court heard.

He accused her of poisoning her 19-year-old daughter Cosima with drugs and "trashing her life" in the email.

Leworth Crown Court in west London heard that the TV chef habitually abused cocaine as well as class B and prescription drugs. The Grillos claim Lawson let them spend wildly as long as they didn't tell her husband the truth about her and her daughter taking drugs.

Judge Johnson said that when Saatchi was asked by police to explain what he meant in the email to the TV chef, he replied: "At the time of sending the email I was completely astounded by the scale of drug use set out in the statements (from the defendants).

"I did believe the allegations that I'm referring to in the email. I have been asked whether it referred to a belief that Nigella ... permitted the sisters to spend whatever they liked.

"I can't remember precisely what I had in mind. On reflection, I was speculating that the sisters would use this information to defend themselves."

Judge Johnson said the allegations by Saatchi came after the "unhappy events surrounding the witnesses' divorce this summer".

The pair broke up after pictures were published in a newspaper showing Saatchi holding his then wife by the throat.

The incident on the terrace of Scott's restaurant in Mayfair, was dismissed by Saatchi as "a playful tiff", but he later accepted a police caution for assault.

Saatchi went on to say that the pictures gave a "wholly different and incorrect implication".

ROW

Anthony Metzer QC, defending Elisabetta Grillo, said the art dealer had told lawyers he did not know about Lawson's alleged drug-taking during their 10-year marriage, only finding out as they were splitting up.

Referring to the incident outside Scott's, Mr Metzer added: "We are submitting that the row that happened, resulting in Mr Saatchi assaulting Nigella, may have had something to do with Nigella taking drugs and may have something to do with the issue before this court."

Defence barristers acting for the sisters want details of the alleged drug use by Lawson to be heard during the case.

The Grillos, both of Kensington Gardens Square, London, deny the charge against them.

It is alleged that between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2012, they committed fraud by abusing their positions as PAs by using a company credit card for personal gain.

Referring to the defendants, Mr Metzer said: "Our clients have been the innocent pawns in a rather unpleasant battle going on between Mr Saatchi, Miss Lawson and their lawyers."

The case continues.

hnews@herald.ie

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